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Suzanne is currently reading:
Craig is currently reading:
Centennial was my Colorado pick for the Around the USA in 52 Books Challenge. And, I might add, having read it, I have completed the challenge! Yay for me!
Doubly exciting was fact that Centennial was a wonderful read. As usual, Michener takes a place and goes far back into history, showing how it was formed geologically, and then how it was settled by people. I especially enjoyed his depictions of the Arapaho and Comanche and how settlement of the area affected them. There was a great deal about the treatment of Native Americans and Michener’s research is excellent here.
I also enjoyed hearing how cattle were brought into Colorado and the evolution of cattle ranching from Texas longhorns to Herefords and various breeding issues. I’m not necessarily a huge bovine lover, but as a North Dakota native, you can’t help but have an interest in cattle.
And then, in the early 20th century, farming was attempted in the near desert areas. They tilled and furrowed the land, stripping it of the sod which held the dirt in place. Giant dust storms were created and thus Colorado became part of the dustbowl during the depression. I remember asking my dad about that time, and he said he remembered shoveling huge piles of dust that blew in from these storms.
Also mentioned was the planting of sugar beets. I live in sugar beet country, so I had no idea that Colorado also had that in common with North Dakota. Michener’s tales of trying to hire workers to help thin the beets, was a fascinating look at the evolution of immigrants and migrant workers.
Overall, great story. Not quite as good as Hawaii and Alaska, but that’s probably just a personal preference.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1976
What I thought would be an interesting history book, entitled A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History, has turned out to be a political pundit’s adaptation of his worldview to various historical events. In other words, there is little true history on these pages.
I will admit up front that I only read the introduction and the first 61 pages – the section about Aaron Burr’s trial. (I couldn’t stomach reading any further!) From the beginning, when author Kenneth C. Davis claims that the election of Barack Obama was a “transforming moment” in American History. I paused, then decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Truly, the election was merely an indicator of something that had already happened: race is no longer an impediment to higher office. But, maybe Davis was going to enlighten me beyond the usual partisan pap.
Nope. The first chapter didn’t get any better. Davis intimates that Aaron Burr was an all-around good guy, who seemed to have given Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton no reason to dislike the man. The nastiness of campaign attacks in the 1800 election were clearly enough to create enmity all around. But apparently Davis forgets all this. Next he states that Jefferson used the power of the presidency to bring false treason charges against Burr, much like Bush punished Joseph Wilson for speaking out against the Iraq war by outing his CIA wife, Valerie Plame. The only similarity here was likely that both Presidents were innocent of any wrongdoing in these cases. The fact that Davis alters history by bringing in his own conjecture shows that this man is no historian.
If you love history give this one a miss.
0 stars (out of 5)
published in 2010294 pages
David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
What are advantages?
What is the inverted U-shaped curve?
And why was David’s defeat of Goliath NOT surprising?
Gladwell, has written another page turner. Not only did I enjoy the stories- although some were very gruesome indeed, but I also appreciated how the theme of the book fit with “AntiFragile” and my interest in Systems and Complexity.
There are three sections to the book: The Advantages of Disadvantages (and the Disadvantages of Advantages), The Theory of Desirable Difficulty, and The Limities of Power. I even found the Notes in the Addendum are interesting.
The Day The World Discovered The Sun: An Extraordinary Story of Scientific Adventure and the Race to Track the Transit of Venus
I viewed and photographed the 2012 Venus transit, so this book caught my attention. It deals with the 1761 and 1769 Venus transit of the sun. Why was this important? In 1761, little was known about our world; even less about our solar system. By using some careful measurements of angles, timing the transit, and some complex trigonometry, scientists of the day could measure the distance to the Sun and all the visible planets. Those who were enlightened at the time, including a couple monarchs, became quite excited by the prospect. There was a friendly competition between the countries. Yet it was far more difficult that it sounds. Travel was a dangerous proposition at best and the tools for measuring time were far from accurate. Anderson has written an enjoyable book, filled with adventure, science, and history.
Dear Boy: The Life Of Keith Moon
It’s been 32-years since I read “Full Moon” by Dougal Butler, plenty of time to revisit Keith Moon, drummer for my favorite rock band The Who. Fletcher’s book is more detailed and deeply researched, but Butler’s book is more of a memoir as he was Keith’s friend, companion and chauffeur through out much of the drummer’s career with The Who. I’ve been reading Chris Charlesworth’s blog: just backdated. Charlesworth was an editor of “Dear Boy” and mentions it repeatedly in his highly readable music blog, so I thought I would give it a read.
It’s a pretty good read, but it does come across as the work of a fan and not a researcher. There is too much editorializing, and Fletcher gives the benefit of the doubt to Moon at every turn. Now that I’m older the stories are no longer funny, only sad. Moon was the perfect drummer for the Who (at least in the early years) but he is far from a great drummer. I doubt few bands could deal with his energy or intensity. Off stage his friendly personality traits were swamped by the monster he became as he abused alcohol, drugs, sex, money, and relationships. His death was almost a forgone conclusion. I like to think if he were around today, at the same age, mental health professionals could have treated his underlying ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ and found treatment for his substances abuse.